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August 1969

Emphysema, the Insidious Enemy

Arch Otolaryngol. 1969;90(2):121. doi:10.1001/archotol.1969.00770030123004

REPORTED as a separate disease only in recent years, emphysema is now second only to coronary heart disease in disabling the nation's workers, according to the US Public Health Services and the National Center for Chronic Disease control.1 In 1965 there were 38,263 workers retired prematurely because of respiratory disease disability, chiefly emphysema. Like cancer of the lung, a rare disease three and four decades ago and today the leading cancer in men, and secondly only to cancer of the breast in women, emphysema as a cause of death was relatively infrequent three and four decades ago but is increasing with startling rapidity from 3,639 deaths in 1955, 7,728 in 1959, to more than 20,000 deaths in 1966. Today there are more people suffering from emphysema than from tuberculosis and lung cancer combined.

What causes emphysema and why is it increasing so rapidly? Emphysema of the lung is the

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